Sun-Kissed Sounds and Savage Sharks: Dua Lipa’s Radical Optimism is a Pop Paradise

1 min read

Dua Lipa ‘s jet-setting Instagram might paint a picture of endless vacations, but even paradise has its dangers. Her new album, Radical Optimism, captures that dichotomy perfectly. The cover art features Lipa floating serenely in turquoise water – with a menacing shark lurking nearby. It’s a blunt metaphor, but subtlety isn’t Lipa’s style.

Following her smash hit Future Nostalgia, Lipa returns with another pop masterpiece – and a refreshingly concise one at that. In an age of bloated tracklists chasing streaming numbers, Radical Optimism punches above its weight with a breezy 11 songs under 40 minutes. Forget the “song of the summer,” this entire album is summer.

Opening with a playful countdown and a chorus of cheers, Radical Optimism explodes with infectious energy. “What’s it about a kiss that makes me feel like this?” Lipa sings, a sentiment that echoes throughout the album. Whether searching for true love in “Training Season” or questioning a toxic attraction in “Happy For You,” Lipa tackles familiar themes with undeniable charisma.

While she doesn’t reinvent the pop wheel lyrically or sonically (despite earlier hints of psychedelic influences), Lipa inhabits these songs completely. You’ll be too busy dancing to overthink the lyrics. Tracks like “Houdini” shimmer with hit potential, while “Falling Forever” finds Lipa unleashing a powerful vocal that wouldn’t sound out of place in a moonlit forest.

The production, helmed by heavyweights like Danny L Harle and Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker, is pristine without being overwrought. The songs feel light, airy, and carefree – which is exactly the point. Lipa dismisses the notion that feel-good pop music lacks depth. “[There’s] a stigma around pop music,” she told CBC. “But manifesting positivity can be powerful. Let’s put some good sh*t out into the world.”

Radical Optimism delivers on that promise. It’s crafted with care and refreshingly devoid of oversharing. Lipa, despite her social media ubiquity, maintains an aura of mystery. It’s that very elusiveness that keeps us captivated. We don’t need pop stars as friends; we need them to believe in the magic of pop music. And Dua Lipa is a true believer.

The world outside might be bleak, but on the dance floor with the new Dua Lipa blasting? Everything feels alright.

Radical Optimism is out now.